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Opinion

A letter to the Collingwood Football Club

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Roar Guru
12th April, 2021
16

To whom it may concern,

Before we begin, I am not a Collingwood supporter. This could be the only factual piece of writing designed to help your football club that has zero bias towards it, not a fan on social media blasting off with either anger in their soul or a heartbroken tear, while also not an opposition supporter offering a half hearted life raft with a hand around the proverbial throat, hoping to see you sink.

This is how to right your ship and get yourself out of the proverbial hole, on-field. It would be mightily arrogant for someone to believe they could be in their early 20s and solve your problems, but some stability there might be handy.

The 2020 Trade Period was a poor one, without a shadow of a doubt. However, that can’t be fixed as we hit Round 5 with a 1-3 record. There’s a a daunting trip to Optus Stadium against a West Coast team who after coming off their last Marvel Stadium against the Dogs, took apart Port Adelaide. After going down in a humiliating loss to St.Kilda, West Coast can smell blood in the water.

Granted yes, the ‘no one believes we can win’ mentality helped you win the Elimination Final last year in one of the biggest upsets in recent times but in 2020, the Pies were eighth.

Meanwhile, the Pies faced a GWS side without Stephen Coniglio, Phil Davis, Matt De Boer, Lachie Whitfield, Harry Perryman, Brayden Preuss, Brent Daniels, Daniel Lloyd and Sam Reid and not only lost, were gutless.

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Nathan Buckley flagged changes were coming and sure, there’s only two ways to change in ways so drastic as what has been foreshadowed and that’s either a combination of both of these terms or ‘all in’ on one. These changes are structural or personnel.

The Pies have had what seems the same core since the fateful 2018 grand final. Personnel is where it is at and three teams are exemplifying that justification: Adelaide, Sydney and Essendon. The kids are exciting, making the game style quicker and turnovers aren’t as bad when it’s a 21-year-old kid or younger who’s played 20 games or less than a B Grader who’s underwhelmed.

The positive in the 2020 off-season is that the Pies had four picks in the top thirty and none of them are currently playing. Ollie Henry was given two games before being dropped and struggled yes, but you’re not taken at Pick 17 and not have talent, give him more time!

Pick 19 Finlay Macrae has been touted as the replacement of Taylor Adams and its a blessing in disguise – no disrespect to Taylor who is a personal favourite -, Academy grown kid Reef McInnes is sitting in the wings and Pick 30 Caleb Poulter hasn’t been spoken about at all. Pick 44 Beau McCreery showed a bit on the weekend, need to keep him in and let him develop.

The loyalty to guys who aren’t challenging to be A grade status is bordering on insanity and they can be named, with no regret. Chris Mayne, Josh Thomas, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Levi Greenwood and Mason Cox have moments and that’s it.

Moments aren’t good enough from a handful of players who have 713 games of AFL experience, it’s simply not good enough.

Nathan Buckley, coach of the Magpies, looks dejected

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Adams is a forced out and Macrae is coming in so there’s a tick there, without a doubt. So who else comes in? All well and good to bang on about things but not only do I have statements, I have solutions.

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OUT: Taylor Adams
IN: Finlay Macrae

Midfielder for midfielder and if Finlay is anything like brother Jackson, goodness me the Pies could have a guy they can give the midfield to after captain Scott Pendlebury goes, not that that will be this year.

OUT: Mason Cox
IN: Darcy Cameron

After one game in three years at Sydney, Cameron has showed flashes of what he can do at the Pies but when Mason Cox gets outworked at a centre bounce by Jeremy Finlayson who followed up his work and kicked inside 50 to Toby Greene?

The camel’s back is broken and a tall forward/second ruck like for like and a 26-year-old Cameron needs to prove himself.

OUT: Will Hoskin-Elliott
IN: Oliver Henry

Another positional like for like here and Ollie did struggle to get near the pill but without game time, how do you know?

Hoskin-Elliott was okay, even good on Saturday night but since the 2018 grand final, he’s averaging less than 11 touches and has kicked 14 goals in 22 games. Simple, not good enough and a first year player will inject freshness which is needed in a stale looking Collingwood outfit.

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OUT: Josh Thomas
IN: Trey Ruscoe

Whilst Ruscoe’s crumbing ability hasn’t been highlighted, McCreery can have that role and Ruscoe can be a leading hybrid forward who’s a good kick at goal and deceptively good hands. Collingwood are 16th for points scored and Thomas has kicked eight goals in his last 20 games. Not good enough.

OUT: Chris Mayne
IN: Tyler Brown

Brown’s body size and shape looks elite to join Josh Daicos to roam the wings for a decade plus and although he was dropped, the Pies can put their hand up and bring him back in. Needs to back in his kicking as his tank looks good but that instinct of handball first needs a shift and that will come in time.

Does Levi Greenwood tag? Without Elliott Yeo and Luke Shuey in the Eagles’ side, Tim Kelly would be a match-up but pace is a huge worry. If he comes out, a debut in Caleb Poulter or Reef McInnes could be on the cards.

Although it’s frowned upon to make a debutant a medical sub, there’s no rule against it and if they get a run, they get a run and if not, the experience of match day is never something that’s worth complaining about.

Right, that’s the coaches done, onto the blokes who wear the jumpers. Are you still playing for Nathan Buckley? Do you have faith in the man that’s leading you?

Now, if the answer is no – and from an outsider it’s looking that way – then the kids coming in is a thing of beauty.

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A kid isn’t bothered by the coach when he’s carving out a career and auditioning for a future one doesn’t hurt either. Now if you are playing for the coach and you’re invested and all those magical terms that are bandied about, can you for the love of god, please prove it?

Darcy Moore, Jordan Roughead, Jack Madgen, Jack Crisp, Taylor Adams and John Noble can’t do it themselves.

Collingwood have been many things in the last twenty years and those adjectives are better suited for others but what they are slowly becoming and have become for the last 18 months; boring, lacklustre and borderline irrelevant.

If Buckley is not your man, the coaching scout can be done for you right now. Get Adam Kingsley, Daniel Giansiracusa, Michael Voss, Jaymie Graham, Steven King, Nigel Lappin and Jarrod Schofield on the phone as quick as you can. If Buckley isn’t the man moving forward, the media will jump on Brad Scott and Robert Harvey but the fresh start if you go down this path, avoid both.

Jordan De Goey

Jordan De Goey in happier times. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Robert Harvey has been at the club too long, you’ve got to go after guys from the outside to get their ideas (see list below) and beliefs into the place. Look at Justin Longmuir who left your club to a fresh club and it’s working thus far.

In conclusion, it’s the responsibility of the people inside your football club to invoke the changes that are spoken about. Everyone grows up with the adage of ‘actions speak louder than words’.

It’s time for Collingwood to put their big boy pants on and make some calls to decide your present and set the pieces in place for the future because like it or not: footy is more interesting, when Collingwood is interesting.

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Yours sincerely,

A footy fan